Dumbwaiter Calamities of Crockery

Dumbwaiter Calamities of Crockery


The dumbwaiter used to come up through this cupboard on the second floor. It is now just a cupboard.

My home Springside Hall (aka the Hi Diddle Day house) was built in different eras. The Morphy’s were no nonsense Scottish folks and a sturdy stone house in 1867 was better than having luxury. So way before the Property Brothers existed the Crams decided to add an addition in the late 1800s early 1900s. A dining room and a galley kitchen was built as well as a servants quarters on the second level.
When we bought the house in 1981 there was still push button lighting, and we knew there had been a dumbwaiter in the galley kitchen. We noticed that a long time ago it went up to the former servants quarters and there was a wooden call button in the master bedroom at a height and location which would be within easy reach from their bed.



The wooden buzzer used to be a few inches from the Victorian photo on the wall.



In some older homes like ours there used to be a tiny lift intended to carry objects rather than people. Through the years they  became refined to where it could be hidden in a wall and discreetly move food and other small necessities between upper living floors and the kitchen and servants locations on the lower floor.
Apparently homeowners hated this ingenious piece of mechanism people and said the only people it benefited were the crockery dealers.  It was said that the action of the dumbwaiter was modelled upon that of s volcano, since it shot up the family’s crockery to upper levels as though by a convulsion of nature.


Of course others said the dumbwaiter was far less dangerous to crockery than at the hands of a living servant or waiter would be. The cat does not meddle in the upheavals of the dumbwaiter or a soup-tureen in order to investigate its contents in the back yard, are of comparatively rare occurrence in households where the dumbwaiter is in use.

The dumbwaiter was known to suddenly swallow up whole dinner service, and leave them in fragments, which  reduced the servants to despair. Apparently there was not an hour of the day that passed without bringing someone to utter a blood-curdling sound that announced that the dumbwaiter was loose, and that in another moment the crash of crockery mingled with the despairing cry of the head of household saying, “There’s that dreadful dumbwaiter again!”


Image result for old dumbwaiter broken dishes


Upon investigating a series of dumb waiter calamities in the newspaper archives the soup-tureen was always involved first, and one accident was more destructive than the first. Of course most times the accident was caused by the breaking of  the mode of transportation–the hand hoisted rope. Undoubtedly the broken rope was the main culprit and another hemp rope was uniformly prescribed by whatever carpenter they called. Of course his remedy was perfectly inoperative, as a more violent crash some months later  would occur.
In 1887 it was quoted that the only salvation for a man or family that owned a dumb waiter was to chop it into pieces, burn the pieces and to bury those ashes at least a mile from the house. “If they choose not to do it be forewarned that the dumbwaiter will slowly but surely bust all the crockery in your home. It will also destroy the nervous system of your entire family and send someone to the madhouse- leaving a bankrupt broken hearted lunatical family”.



 - Being a baby boomer from the Bronx back in the...

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place and The Tales of Almonte

About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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